Monday 6 November 2023

Maybe spend less on stuff that isn't pipes?

If this is correct, it seems even more irresponsible for Wellington Council to be spending any substantial amount of money on anything other than the pipes for a while. 

A billion dollars a year is what it would take to fix Wellington’s water woes, but the boss of Wellington Water, Tonia Haskell, says that is a figure beyond councils to fund.

“Councils can’t afford it and a new water entity probably could not afford that either, unless the Government chips in,” Haskell said in an interview with The Post.

...She describes $1b as an “unconditional budget” and notes that it could take many years to do the work required. “I do not know at what point that tails off.”

The annual figure of $1b includes the cost of such things as a new wastewater outfall pipe for Hutt Valley, installing meters, new reservoirs, upgrading wastewater storage and treatment plants across the region and completely renewing the piping network.

I do not know whether there's gold-plating in the treatment plant upgrades that could be trimmed back. If the costs here include completely renewing the piping network, the costs of that renewing ought to be spread over decades rather than borne up-front. And note that these costs are for the whole region rather than just Wellington. 

But however you structure it all, the costs won't be small. The same set of households and businesses will be paying the combination of rates and water charges to cover the bills over the decades to come.

Spending a hundred million more than necessary on a central library, and another hundred million on town hall, and the convention centre, and who knows what bill yet to come on the Michael Fowler Centre and the Opera House and the insane-looking subsidy to a multinational movie theatre company and whatever's going on in transport... c'mon folks. Give it a rest until we know what kind of burden we're all looking at for fixing the pipes. 

Or at least quit whining to central government that you need bailouts when you're simultaneously deciding to spend a heck of a lot on projects that look pretty iffy while the pipes are falling apart. 

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